Our last night in Tokyo.

After having more sushi, we followed the direction of Kyle’s friend who told us there was an awesome dessert place off a stop like six away from Shinjyuku. Vague directions aside, we did find a place is this upscale-looking local area, after making a stop at a market that could be compared to a Gelsen’s in California. Because the dessert was so pricey, we shared two.

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Christopher said it was gauche to order two desserts and share, as it was not done here. Indeed, the waiter looked startled at our request and didn’t understand it at first.

Next to the dessert, that’s my sparkly wrist bag wherein I kept my Suica card (the Subway pass). You need to beep it at the entry and exit gates of every station so they can deduct what you owe for the ride.

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Shinjyuku Gyoen National Garden

On Tuesday, our last day in Tokyo, Christopher wanted to take us to the Shinjyuku National Garden. This is picked up from the Web site:  Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the site of a private mansion belonging to Lord Naito, a “daimyo”(feudal lord) of the Edo era. Completed in 1906 as an imperial garden, it was re-designated as a national garden after the Second World War and opened to the public. With 58.3 ha(144 acres) in size and a circumference of 3.5 km, it blends three distinct styles, French Formal Garden, English Landscape Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.

Although it is, of course, still winter, we were able to see some cherry blossoms blooming. I was starting to experience a miserable toothache due to a loosening temporary crown, but fortunately, the waves of pain came and went. I had to dump my hot coffee as anything hot sent me through the roof. I sucked it up though because I did not want to miss a minute of time with the boys.

Here are some pics of the park. I think it was another place that was rebuilt after being destroyed in the air raids on Tokyo in WWII right before the surrender (by the U.S., which is why we did not need to obliterate civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in those horrific attacks). Even in winter the park has a stark beauty.

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After the garden, Kyle had to stop once more for a game of Groove Coaster, while Chris and I waited. Due to something that got under my temporary crown, I was in terrible tooth pain here, and the selfie makes my face look fat! I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to eat, but the pain magically subsided when we got to the sushi restaurant. Thank god.

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A Day in Christopher’s Hometown.

On Monday, we all agreed we were pretty exhausted. After all the travel to and from airports, plus all the walking in Korea and in Tokyo, I couldn’t envision another day of walking. I estimate we must have walked at least ten miles total, maybe more, so far. So we decided to spend a pleasant day just hanging locally in Christopher’s area. As I mentioned, I loved Hitotsubashi-Gakugen, the little residential village by Christopher’s dorm complex. There are some stores, noodle and ramen shops, antique shops and lots of quaint ambiance. I’m kind of surprised how far away the dorms are from the schools. These dorms serve a number of universities, all quite far. You need a bike unless you want to be walking three miles round trip every day with a backpack of books. Christopher says the Japanese have mastered the art of riding a bike with an umbrella in one hand but brave as he is, he won’t try that

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Everyone has a bike here. Chris’s is the black one. Chris’s is so cool I wish he could bring it home! This is such a safe area, you can leave a bike unlocked and no one would dream of stealing it.

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Here’s Christopher on the top floor of his dorm.

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This is Chris waiting to get his hair cut at his local hairdresser called sunrise. It’s very fancy what they do, including giving you a little neck massage and lather up the sides to be shaved with an old fashioned razor.

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Here are some shots of the village about a 7-minute walk from the dorm, called Hitotsubashi-Gakugen. It’s one stop off the Kokobunji line, which means he has to transfer for one stop.

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Yes, I would agree… time to duck in to the odon noodle shop. You can also choose soba noodles. Delish!

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After lunch it’s one stop over to Kokobunji. Christopher explained it is sort of a nightlife district. The places cater to big groups, seating is Japanese style. They also might have karaoke in another room of the same joint.  We wanted to find a place to eat but EVERYTHING in Kokobunji was closed!

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Christopher perusing the Kokobunji places. He says the town comes alive at night. Below is a shot of a spot where Chris and his friends have gone for parties.

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We were bummed stuff was closed because we were sooooo hungry!

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. We went back to Hitotsubashi…. spotting this preschool bus! Come on, that’s cuter than heck!

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This is a little convenience store (seen in back of the bus in blue) where Christopher gets convenience store sushi AND cheap coffee latte!

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I thought everything in Japan was cheap except for the trains! Also we had a favorable exchange rate. A large cafe latte, made perfectly, was only 180 yen.

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Chris wouldn’t DREAM of ordering in English although I discovered the clerk did speak English.

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Afterwards, we came back to his room and hung out, listening for the chimes at 4:30. I took a movie of it and then forgot to turn my recorder off and the camera recorded for 25 minutes, OMG. And making a 3GB file. Waiting for Christopher to edit it for me and then I will post it somewhere.

Sushi, sushi, sushi.

We had Kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi all four days we stayed in Japan. Twice at the Shinjuku place in the big city, once at a smaller place closer to Christopher’s dorm near Kokobunji and once at a pricier place in Shibuya. The boys chose their favorite places but I personally thought the first place was the most fun. AND the cheapest!

Here are some photos of us at all the sushi places

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Christopher adding up the number of plates that we have. In these sushi restaurants, the plates are encoded, so all they have to do is come by with a scanner to see how much you owe.

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This was the second place near his university area.

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Meiji Shrine–Shibuya

The Meiji Shrine, located in the heart of one of Tokyo’s busiest districts, Shibuya, is a 134-acre forest park with a temple complex dedicated to a deified emperor and empress and was originally built in 1915 (notice the art deco detail on the lantern.). The original buildings were destroyed in air raids of Tokyo in WWII (we would come across this in Korea as well) but through public fundraising have been slowly rebuilt. Christopher took us to this shrine, which is so big we needed a map not to get lost.

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